We present an analysis of the effect of aerosol forward scattering on the accuracy of aerosol optical depth (AOD) measured by CIMEL Sun photometers. The effect is quantified in terms of AOD and solar zenith angle using radiative transfer modeling. The analysis is based on aerosol size distributions derived from multi-year climatologies of AERONET aerosol retrievals. The study shows that the modeled error is lower than AOD calibration uncertainty (0.01) for the vast majority of AERONET level 2 observations, ~99.53%. Only ~0.47% of the AERONET database corresponding mostly to dust aerosol with high AOD and low solar elevations has larger biases. We also show that observations with extreme reductions in direct solar irradiance do not contribute to level 2 AOD due to low Sun photometer digital counts below a quality control cutoff threshold.